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  • Redefining Nymph of the Luo River: A Practice-based investigation into a feminist reinterpretation of a traditional Chinese painting through the creation of animations

Meng, Chunhui, 2016, Thesis, Redefining Nymph of the Luo River: A Practice-based investigation into a feminist reinterpretation of a traditional Chinese painting through the creation of animations MPhil thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

Since the last century, in mainland China, an interest in adapting classic stories into animated films, notably Princess Iron Fan (1941) and Lotus Lantern (1999), has developed, in order to promote Chinese history and traditional culture (Gu, 2013 and Fu, 2015). However, few of these adaptations reflect equal gender relations, and female characters have been generally written from a masculine point of view (Qin, 2012). This study thus aims to explore how aspects of the process of creating animation, including character design and the use of camera perspective, can be used to both analyse a traditional painting and propose an alternative model for the representation of female characters.
This practice-based project also focuses on an analysis of female representation in the story Nymph of the Luo River, a traditional Chinese love story set in the Wei and Jin dynasties (220-589 BC), that was adapted from a famous scroll painting by the artist Gu Kaizhi (348-409 BC). Although Gu Kaizhi challenged the stereotypical portrayal of women in the past in terms of its emphasis on feminine beauty, the concept of which was influenced by Taoism, he was also affected by a Confucianist view. Because of this, he still portrayed the goddess from a male perspective, and created the stereotype of the goddess as an object of a man’s desire. This painting can be also viewed as reflecting John Berger’s (1972) argument that the depictions of women in traditional European paintings were created to satisfy a male audience, which has been further explored by a visual analysis in this study.
Visual analysis is also used to critique the image of women in animated adaptations of traditional Chinese stories. The theoretical research then focuses on film-making: two animated adaptations
(hereafter referred to as Film 1 and Film 2) were created, based on the Nymph of the Luo River story, demonstrating two different gender perspectives. It draws upon the theories of contemporary scholars of feminism, such as Laura Mulvey (1975), and traditional Chinese philosophy, Taoism, which supports gender equality. Through the reflected practice of making animation, progress and decisions were made that convey the reasons for making the changes between the two films. A focus group interview and quantitative survey were conducted as evaluation for this research by showing the two animated films to Chinese audiences for them to compare.

Qualification Name: MPhil
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
School or Centre: School of Communication
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2016 16:40
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2016 16:40
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2204

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